I've spent a little bit of time building some non-critical tools for my teammates on my work project, which has got me thinking about tooling for documentation systems.

This collection of tools is something that we've started to take for granted, but I think it's pretty novel and worth talking about a bit more.

Documentation toolkits, traditionally refer to the system that deals with the production of the documentation for end use, which typically means taking the source text and rendering it into web sites, pdfs, ebooks, and embedded "online help" text.

These toolkits are really important and I think one of the best things you can do for a documentation tool kit is to produce documentation using a tool specifically designed to address the needs of documentation projects and technical writers.

Unfortunately, documentation production is mostly for readers and business owners of documentation and not really for the writers. Tooling for documentation, particularly the kind that I've been spending time on recently is about making documentation easier to maintain, and easier to improve at scale. For example:

  • tools to make common textual chunks easier to reuse.
  • tools that enforce common structures.
  • tools that detect common patterns of weak constructions.
  • tools that that analyize text for common readability conventions.

I was going to write this up as a blog post, but I think it makes sense as a collection of wiki pages:

Onward and Upward!